Gallup: Economy Is Dominant Issue for Women and Men As Election Nears

By Susan Jones | October 22, 2012 | 5:57 AM EDT

Looking for jobs at a job fair. (AP Photo)

( - President Obama, in his effort to attract female voters, has campaigned on issues such as "contraceptive care," funding for Planned Parenthood, and equal pay for women, but a Gallup Poll released on Monday indicates this may be the wrong approach.

According to Gallup, "[W]omen and men put nearly identical emphasis on the economy and unemployment as the nation's most important problems, suggesting that these are the issues they will consider most when voting."

Gallup asked more than a thousand adults, what is the most important problem facing this country today? In response to that question, 37 percent of Americans chose the economy as the nation's most critical problem -- up from 29 percent in September.

Employment was number two on the list, with 26 percent of Americans choosing that as the nation's most important problem, down from 32 percent in September.

The federal budget deficit currently ranks third on Gallup's "Most Important Problem" list, at 12 percent, followed by dissatisfaction with government (9%), healthcare (7%), and "lack of money" (5%).

According to Gallup, "Democrats, independents, and Republicans all became more likely to name the economy as the nation's top problem in October; however, the increase was sharpest among Republicans, rising 14 percentage points, from 30 to 44 percent. That contrasts with a five-point increase among independents (from 32 to 37 percent) and a seven-point increase among Democrats (from 26 to 33 percent).

Beyond those top two issues, men put slightly more emphasis on the federal budget deficit, while women were more likely to name healthcare.

Abortion was the top issue named by female voters in 12 key swing states as "the most important issue for women in this election," according to a recent USA Today/Gallup poll. But nationally, only 1 percent of women and less than 1 percent of men consider abortion to be the most important problem.

The bottom line, according to Gallup: The economy is the dominant issue for Americans heading into the November election and is nearly as important to Americans today as it was at this stage of the 2008 presidential election cycle.

Results for the Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews -- landline and cellular -- conducted Oct. 15-16, 2012, on the Gallup Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 1,004 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The margin of error is plus or minus four percentage points.